Early morning fires destroy San Jose townhouse, badly damage another house

Friday, December 25, 2009

A townhome was destroyed and a two-story house was badly damaged Friday in two separate San Jose fires, authorities said.

A San Jose firefighter narrowly avoided injury when he fell through a second-story floor while battling a two-alarm blaze that destroyed a townhouse early Christmas morning.

The fire had been burning for some time in a two-story townhouse at 510 Branham Lane E. when firefighters arrived about 12:40 a.m., according to San Jose fire Capt. Barry Stallard. The first firefighter who went up the home's stairs looking for occupants fell through the floor.

He was not injured, and it turned out nobody was home.

"He was fine," Stallard told Bay City News. "It was like a slow-motion fall. Fortunately, there was no fire beneath him because we had extinguished that."

The fire destroyed the home and caused at least $500,000 in damage, according to Stallard, who said the residents were visiting their son for Christmas. They were informed of the blaze by neighbors.

The fire was brought under control at 2:18 a.m., and though Stallard said the cause of the blaze remains under investigation, it is not considered suspicious.

A few hours later, a Christmas tree caught fire in a house on Spokane Drive, just west of Tully Road and Highway 101, causing extensive damage, said San Jose Fire dispatcher Jennifer Burnham.

Six people were displaced, and a cat and several birds were killed in the 7:26 a.m. blaze. Burnham did not know the exact cause of the fire.



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